How one cou­ple up­dated a Fifties town­house in west Lon­don


With an in­te­rior as flaw­less as that of Tr­isha and Michael Wal­ters’ Lon­don home, se­lect­ing a favourite fea­ture is a tall or­der. How­ever, if pushed to choose, Tr­isha says her pick would be the stair­case, which is en­gi­neered from wal­nut and glass. ‘It’s just so gor­geous, it’s a work of art in it­self,’ she says.

The glass is metic­u­lously cut to form per­fect joins, while the rich wood handrail ap­pears to float on top. Tr­isha sees the stair­case as key to the de­sign ethos be­hind her home – lux­ury ma­te­ri­als, clean lines and ex­act­ing at­ten­tion to de­tail. ‘It’s in­ter­est­ing what you learn about your tastes,’ she says. ‘I never knew I dis­liked metal fix­ings with such a pas­sion. I cer­tainly wasn’t pop­u­lar with my builders, I can tell you.’

This stair­case was a mere pipe dream when Tr­isha and Michael first bought their town­house – an in­fill built in 1955 fol­low­ing wartime bomb dam­age. ‘There

wasn’t much about the house that ap­pealed to us, apart from its lo­ca­tion,’ says Tr­isha, ‘ but it was the last house on the street to be ren­o­vated, which piqued our in­ter­est. The build­ing is east-west fac­ing, so it had plenty of light, but it also had a giant stair­case in the mid­dle, with poky rooms lead­ing off it. That had to go. The work was as close to a re­build as you can get with­out tear­ing down ex­ter­nal brick­work. Two months into the ren­o­va­tion, we walked into the house and we could look straight up at the sky.’

With plan­ning per­mis­sion al­ready granted to con­vert a roof ter­race into a fully fledged mansard ex­ten­sion, the Wal­ters were able to gut the in­te­rior to cre­ate a be­spoke lay­out. ‘Our friend and prop­erty man­ager, Piers Rance of Aedes Con­struc­tion, came with us to view the orig­i­nal house and he was so ex­cited by the project,’ says Tr­isha. ‘He drew up the floor plans and, once the stair­case was repo­si­tioned to one side, the house al­most de­signed it­self.’ The first floor be­came an L-shaped sit­ting room, while the sec­ond floor was given over to the main bed­room and bath­room. With two ex­tra guest bed­rooms and a bath­room in the mansard roof, plus the un­ex­pected dis­cov­ery of a 450sq ft base­ment, the Wal­ters have ended up with a light, spa­cious home.

Once ren­o­vated, the scale of the prop­erty meant that the dec­o­rat­ing would re­quire more time and ex­pe­ri­ence than the cou­ple could pro­vide, so they looked to in­te­rior de­sign­ers Wild­ing & Wolfe. The Fifties prove­nance of the house was key to Tr­isha’s vi­sion and early on in the process, she showed the de­sign­ers im­ages of the era that she had gath­ered to clar­ify the look. One was of an Erik Buch bar stool, with dis­tinc­tive dark hard­wood legs and a leather seat with a gen­tle up­ward curve on the back edge. The rich dark wood tones and spare de­sign of the stool, typ­i­cal of Mod­ernist in­te­ri­ors, are now ap­par­ent through­out, in the new stair­case, in the rich dark wood floor­boards that line the cor­ri­dors, and in var­i­ous dec­o­ra­tive pieces. At Christ­mas, the wood is re­freshed with bou­quets and ar­range­ments of fra­grant green­ery.

Of her fin­ished home, Tr­isha says, ‘We man­aged to source orig­i­nal pieces from an­tiques deal­ers – even track­ing down the ex­act bar stools from my pic­ture. But I was clear that I didn’t want the decor to look like a pe­riod pas­tiche. Yes, the house has stand-out pieces, but they don’t over­whelm. Our home is clas­sic, calm and com­fort­able, but most of all, it is al­ways a won­der­ful place to spend the fes­tive sea­son.’

din­ing area The be­spoke stair­case be­yond the ta­ble has the ap­pear­ance of float­ing in mid air. Stair­case, price on re­quest, Aedes Con­struc­tion

SIT­TING ROOM Hav­ing a blank can­vas al­lowed Tr­isha to spec­ify a chim­ney breast large enough to ac­com­mo­date this paint­ing of a Hanoi street scene. Plat­inum rug, £ 4,443, the rug Com­pany. be­spoke rec­tan­gu­lar out­line cof­fee ta­ble, richard tay­lor De­signs

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